Tell us a little bit about your career.
I did legislative work and other “special projects” in the Legislation and Legal Counsel Division of the U.S. Department of Labor from 1971 until 1991. I then left to take over the National Science Foundation’s ethics program, as the “Designated Agency Ethics Official.” My job was to make sure our compliance with federal ethics laws and regulations was consistent with NSF’s needs for scientific expertise. I retired from the NSF in 2007 and entered private practice, mostly dealing with disability rights law.
Is it what you had planned when you started law school?
No. I thought I might be a litigator. I did moot court and took the trial seminar. I did not know how much lawyers could contribute to policy development.
What has been the highlight of your career?
In 2006 I was awarded the National Science Foundation’s Gold Medal for exceptional performance. The Gold Medal is mostly awarded to scientists and engineers—not lawyers. For this reason, I felt doubly honored.
If you could go back to the beginning of your legal career, would you have done anything differently?
No. When I got out of law school there were not many jobs open to blind lawyers. But I held out for a year—making hundreds of applications—and finally got a really good job in the Labor Department.
If this job had not come through, I would have probably, eventually, opened an office in one of Connecticut’s exurban towns. I had passed the Connecticut bar and the growth of these communities indicated that there was room for more lawyers.
What advice would you give to someone considering law school today?
Go to law school only if you really, really want to be a lawyer.
What were the biggest changes you saw in the legal profession over the course of your career?
First, the virtually universal use of computer technology, and second, the incredible scale of the large law firms.
When did you first become a member of the ABA and why did you decide to join?
I joined the ABA in 2007. I was concerned that the ABA needed to take on its role of promoting full inclusion of people with disabilities in our profession. I also felt I had the time to work on this issue and other ABA priorities.
What has been the highlight of your work with the ABA?
I’ve had two Presidential appointments – first, on the Commission for Disability Rights, and second on the Standing Committee on Election Law. In 2014 I was elected to the Council of the Senior Lawyers Division.
If you had not become a lawyer, what do you think you would have done?
I have no idea. I was determined to become a lawyer, come hell or high water.